In 1978, I watched Maro Charithra [Another History], a Telugu movie directed by K.Balachander, starring Kamal Hassan, which was later remade into Hindi as Ek Duuje Ke Liye, with the same director and hero. While the original was shot extensively in Vizag, the remake was picturised in Goa. Both the original and the remake were super-hits. After watching Maro Charithra, I always wanted to visit picturesque Vizag one day, which got fulfilled only on 12 April 2012!
After exploring the Vizag Beach, we decided to have an early dinner and call it a day. So, we walked uphill for about a km or so, where we found two messes. On enquiry, we found Maa Inti Vindu [Our Homely Feast], a crowded vegetarian mess popular with the local folks. We ate a hearty meal comprising idlies, dosa and poori subjee washed down by tea, costing 111 for two. We returned to our hotel and had well-earned sleep.
We wanted to get up early in the morning so as to witness the sunrise. But, we got up very late, missed the sunrise, breakfasted and watched TV. We decided to check out the room by 12 noon, roam around Vizag city until 5 pm, and then, leave for Kolkata as our Kolkata hotel's check-in time was 10 am. The first place we selected was Kursura - Naval Submarine Museum on the Beach Road.
To know the brief history of Kursura Submarine Museum, please visit Indian Navy's website. I learned that the curator and other staff of the museum are all retired personnel of Indian Navy. Hats off to Indian Navy for their people-friendly initiative.
Here are some photographs clicked inside Kursura Submarine Museum [yes, camera is allowed inside for a fee apart from entry ticket].
Road condition: Excellent 4-lane NH 16 [Old NH 5] except for three railway level crossings and diversions through Rambha, Barkul & Balugaon in Odisha.
We checked out of Hotel Supreme, Vizag at 12 noon, lunched early at Maa Inti Vindu, drove to Kursura Submarine Museum, came to know that it opens only at 2 pm post-lunch, roamed around Beach Road and clicked some photographs. After visiting the Kursura Submarine Museum, my Linea had tankful at BP petrol pump at 2:50 pm. My original plan was to spend time in Vizag until 5 pm so that I would reach Kolkata by 10 pm, the next day to coincide with the check-in time of Hotel Trimoorti, Kolkata. But, the Nature had different plans for us. While cloming out of BP outlet, the sky opened out pouring cats and dogs. We decided to leave for Kolkata immediately. Suddenly, the cloudburst turned into hailstorm, anointing my Linea with tiny ice cubes continuously for about half-hour.
I was worried, whether my Linea's windshield would be damaged by pouring hailstorm. But, nothing happened, we safely reached NH 16 and continued our journey towards Kolkata.
We entered Odisha without any issues. A sign board ['private cars to go this way'] guided me to drive on a wrong side of the road to circumvent hundreds of trucks parked awaiting clearance from the inter-state check-post. After crossing the Odisha check-post, my Linea entered BP COCO/Ghar Dhaba outlet [petrol costs 65.30/litre] on LHS and had tankful. We dined here, comprising rotis and dal fry and continued our journey.
While entering Kolkata, after going over a pothole, my Linea started making loud noise from the front left wheel whenever going over rough, potholed section. I knew, my Linea needs treatment to her suspensions asap. My woes did not end here. My MapMyIndia Lx130 navigator misguided me and took us to an unknown road where there was no traces of Hotel Trimoorti upto the horizon. At that time, an old gentleman [Mr Rampuria] was driving out in his MS Swift from his apartment complex for his morning walk. When I asked for direction for Hotel Trimoorti, he said, he didn't know. But, he volunteered to help me. I requested him to proceed as I could ring up the hotel and ask for the directions. But, he brushed aside my suggestion and told me to follow him, which I did! He stopped by and enquired a few early birds, but none was aware of Hotel Trimoorti, which seemed to be a small lodge at a narrow lane. Then, I rang up the hotel and asked for direction. The first question I had to face was: 'Where are you now?' I gave my mobile to Mr Rampuria, he explained the exact location and listened to the man at the other end. Then, he declared, 'Now I know the place! Please follow me'. We reached the place at 6:30 am finally. I thanked him profusely. But, he confessed that he had a personal interest in knowing about the hotel so that he could suggest to his guests! He inspected the parking lot, enquired about the tariff and left. I parked my Linea at the narrow, congested passage, which served as parking lot for the hotel as well as apartments in the complex and checked into Hotel Trimoorti although time was 6:30 am only. But, the man at the reception did not object and immediately allotted a premium super-deluxe room as the deluxe room which we had reserved through MakeMyTrip.com was not vacant at that time. We unloaded, unpacked, enjoyed the complimentary breakfast comprising poori, subjee, tea and rested. That day happened to be the Bengali New Year Day [Boishokh]. In the evening, we roamed around posh Park Street, had our dinner at a premium restaurant, Gangaur at Russel Street, returned to our den and called it a day. The next day [Sunday], we visited Victoria Memorial & Museum, Birla Platnearium, lunched at a vegetarian restaurant near Maidan Metro Station, took a Metro ride to Kalighat, visited Kali temple from the outside as it was closed at that time and returned back to our hotel.
Road condition: Torturous driving between Kolkata & Dalkhola; excellent 4-lane road between Dalkhola & Bagdogra; very good 2-lane road between Bagdogra & Binnaguri; Bad roads from Falakatta to Cooch Bihar to Toofanganj; Good 2-lane road from Boxirhat to Bongaigaon; Road-widening works in progress from Bongaigaon to Guwahati.
The City Of Joy turned out to be the City Of Sorrow for my Linea on 14 April 2012 early morning. While entering Kolkata around 4:30 am, my Linea was made to run over a pothole due to congestion and I heard a bang. First, I thought it was just like other usual bang when I drive over potholes and craters. But, that was not to be. My Linea started making loud noise whenever I drove her over rough road. I didn't want to take risk in driving her for the remaining part of the trip. Since it was a Bengali new year day, all the service centres were closed. Lexus Motors informed me that they worked for half day on Sunday too, but there were fully booked. My Linea got her appointment for Monday [16 April 2012]. In the meanwhile, I had gone through the terms and conditions of the extended warranty for suspension, which will be valid upto 35 k km. Since my Linea just clocked 40 k km, I knew that I had to spend from my pocket.
On 16 April 2012, I checked out of Hotel Trimoorti at 8:30 am and directly drove to Lexus Motors with bag and baggage reaching there by 9:45 am. On the way to Lexus Motors service station, my Linea crossed 40 k km.
My Linea was immediately attended to at Lexus Motors. Later, I was told what I had already guessed: the LHS shock-absorber, both the elastic pads and caps were to be replaced. When I enquired about GC upgrade kit, I was told that they were expecting one kit by next month. The SA informed me that they had all the spares in stock and I would be getting my Linea back before 12 noon. I informed the SA about my trip and my intention of driving from there to Guwahati and requested him to return my Linea fully repaired ASAP.
Self and wife were sitting in the crowded customers' lounge. After half hour or so, I was told the bad news: they had two shocks in stock and both were RHS ones! So, a person was sent to get a LHS shock-absorber from their another service station. When the bad news comes, it won't come alone. The main road where Lexus Motors service station was located had come to a standstill because of a traffic jam and nobody got a clue as to when it would be cleared. The SA told me that I would be getting back my Linea only after 3 pm. So, we continued our sitting in the customers' lounge and had many rounds of tea. Our lunch on that day comprised Marie biscuits and Tropicana fruit juice that we had carried with us.
When I contacted the SA at 2:30 pm, he informed me that spares were yet to reach. But, the silver lining on the otherwise dark clouds was, I was assured that I would get my Linea on that day itself come what may.
Finally, the spares arrived by 3:30 pm. They were installed immediately by a group of mechanics. I was asked to accompany the mechanic for a TD. My Linea was back to normal condition. My Linea was washed and handed over to me. I paid the amount [ 10,427] by credit card without any extra charges. We left Lexus Motors by 5 pm for Guwahati.
It was torturous to drive on NH 34 via Krishnanagar with full of congestion, traffic jams and disorderly traffic conditions. We halted at BP COCO/Ghar Dhaba at Birohi. My Linea had tankful of petrol costing 70.17/litre and we had our rotis, dal fry and tea. The breakfast stop was at BP COCO/Ghar Dhaba at Dalkhola. Here, petrol cost 69.76 per litre. I took two power naps each of duration 45 and 30 minutes apart from breaks for food and refuelling. I took hell lot of time for driving this 1175 km with poor FE and less average speed, thanks to very bad roads and eternal traffic jam on a 4-lane NH forcing me to drive through rural Bengal adjoining Bangladesh border to arrive at Siliguri. Again, bad roads greeted us at Falakatta, Cooch Bihar and Toofanganj. Road conditions improved after entering Assam. We had our dinner at a road-side dhaba at Chaper, Assam. Later, my MapMyIndia Lx130 navigator misguided me again and took me via Bongaigaon although I had selected Goalpara bypass as a via point. Road widening works were in progress from Bongaigaon to Guwahati. I decided not to take this Bongaigaon route for the return journey. We reached Ginger Hotels, Guwahati, at 3:00 am on 18 April 2012. After checking in, we crashed to the bed.